Business

Major milestone as first Gas to the West domestic consumer connected in Strabane

Davy Ralston
Davy Ralston Davy Ralston

THE first domestic consumer has been connected to natural gas in Strabane as part of the multi-million-pound Gas to the West project.

Justin Arkinson from Derry Road in the town became the first household to benefit from the £250m infrastructure investment, which will see SGN Natural Gas bring gas to eight main towns in counties Tyrone, Fermanagh and Derry.

SGN, as part of its licence agreement, will be delivering natural gas mains, services and meters to nearly 40,000 customers over the next 40 years in towns including Coalisland, Cookstown, Dungannon, Magherafelt, Omagh, Enniskillen, Strabane and Derrylin.

Danny O’Malley, director of SGN Natural Gas (www.sgnnaturalgas.co.uk), said the connection of the first domestic consumer in Strabane was an important milestone for all those involved in making Gas to the West a reality.

“I must pay tribute to the ongoing commitment and hard work of our dedicated project team, key partners and stakeholders in reaching this exciting stage of the project," he said.

“Natural gas is now flowing for customers in Strabane, with the other seven towns in the west scheduled to follow suit in due course.”

Jenny Pyper, chief executive of the Utility Regulator, said: “This is another vote of confidence in the natural gas industry in Northern Ireland and a welcome boost for our infrastructure, bringing greater energy choice for consumers.”

She added: “We look forward to continued progress with the remainder of the construction phase under way to extend the network so that natural gas will be available to many more customers in the near future as part of the Gas to the West project.”

Derry City & Strabane mayor Maoliosa McHugh, who was on hand for the official switch-on, said: “Gas to the West is a significant new infrastructure development for the western region and I'm delighted Strabane is the first provincial town to be connected to mains gas. The availability of natural gas will bring many positive benefits for both business and domestic consumers and the wider local economy.”

First customer Mr Arkinson said: “We were in the process of setting up oil heating for our new home when we heard that natural gas would be available in Strabane, so the timing was perfect for us.

"We’re delighted to be the first domestic consumer connected to the new gas network in the town and looking forward to the convenience it offers as well as saving on our energy bills and helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which is an added bonus.”

Earlier this year LacPatrick Dairies at Artigarvan became the first business customer to be connected to natural gas.